The Shawnee Mission South completed their domination of the 70th Tournament of Champions as they have all season, with a defense that stalls opponents' offenses.
The unbeaten Raiders of the Sunflower League marauded the competition last weekend, including a 52-32 victory over the Wichita North Redskins in the title game at United Wireless Arena.
The title was the first for a team from the Shawnee Mission area since 1976 and the Raiders showed why they are unbeaten in 11 games this season and a very serious threat to take the Sunflower League and Class 5A state titles.
The South players wanted to find out where they stood against some of the other top teams in the state and feel pleased coming away with the first place trophy and used a philosophy known more among the host Red Demons of placing first emphasis on defense.
"We were real excited about playing down here against tougher competition," said South post player Josh Pedersen, who scored 16 points to lead the Raiders in the championship game. "We pride ourselves on playing good defense and making people turn the ball over.
"We want to make the best of what we've got and the goals are set high for us. This will help our confidence, starting with the Sunflower League championship and go from there."
South gave up an average of 31 points in their three victories of the tournament over Wichita South (30), Dodge City (31) and Wichita North (32) and scored more than 20 points off of turnovers in each of the three games (including 22 against North in the final).
"If our guys don't make at least 20 turnovers a game, then they don't feel like they do their jobs," said South coach Brett McFall. "Our defense was the key to our success."
The preview of the champion game all through the weekend was the battle between South's Danien Swoope and Wichita North's Conner Frankamp.
Those hopes to see the key matchup fell through when Frankamp hit his head on the floor after getting undercut on a dunk attempt in the Redskins' semifinal victory over Scott City. Swoope didn't make a field goal in the final and finished with six points.
Although the Redskins lost Frankamp for the rest of the tournament and for the first game after the weekend, the North players found they can still compete at a high intensity level after beating the Beavers.
In the end, it was just a case of South having too many weapons for the Redskins (10-1) to overcome on championship night.
"We definitely would have liked to have had Conner out there for the final, but not having him there may have been a blessing in disguise," said North head coach Gary Squires. "Our players stuck together at a time of need and played their hearts out.
Page 2 of 2 - "They learned how to win with Conner, which is something they haven't had to deal with for two years. They grew up this weekend and we'll definitely be more dangerous the rest of the season."
Tarius Williams led the Redskins in scoring with 10 points.
The opening quarter saw both teams have the jitters as neither team shot well. South was 3-of-12 from the field, while North was 3-of-8 with six turnovers. The second quarter saw the Raiders start to push away, allowing only one North field goal and scoring the final eight points to lead 17-9 at intermission. Pedersen and Devin Newsome scored six apiece to lead South, with no player scoring more than three for the Redskins.
The Raiders continued to show their domination in the third quarter, scoring nine of the first 11 points after halftime to increase the lead to 26-11. A late run by the Redskins got the margin back to 10 at the end of the stanza.
South completed the rout by making five of their seven shots in the final period to earn the title and take it back to the Kansas City area.
Newsome added 10 points in the victory for South after winning the tournament's annual free throw shooting contest and was picked as the individual sportsmanship award. Newsome said he had places for all the hardware he received from Dodge City and he admitted there will still some adrenaline in him as he was leaving the arena.
"It was a long ride to get here and it's going to be a long ride back" Newsome said. "This time going back, we're going to have a party on the bus going home because we're going to celebrate this."
WICHITA NORTH (32) — Zach Beard 1-12 2-2 4, Tristyn Villa 2-6 2-2 7, Tarius Williams 4-8 2-4 10, Marcus Duart 0-1 0-0 0, John Bogle 1-4 0-1 2, Beau Shockley 1-2 0-0 2, Graeham Jarvis 0-2 0-0 0, Sean Bernard 2-6 1-2 5, Daniel Mathiasen 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 12-44 7-11 32.
SHAWNEE MISSION SOUTH (52) — Ethan Kaplan 1-1 0-1 2, Ra'Keim Abdul 1-2 2-4 4, DeAngelo Bruster 3-6 1-2 7, Dainan Swoope 0-3 6-6 6, Jake Caldwell 1-5 1-2 3, Hunder Ahrens 0-0 0-0 0, Max Pozek 0-0 0-0 0, Devin Newsome 3-6 4-4 10, Josh Pedersen 5-9 6-8 16, Connor Hill 0-0 2-2 2, Brian Harness 1-1 0-0 2, Nick Oliver 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 15-35 22-29 52.
North 7 2 10 13 — 32
South 7 10 12 23 — 52
Three-point baskets — North 1 (Villa 1). Records — North 10-1, South 11-0.